Accessibility links

Breaking News

7 Killed by Suspected Islamic Militants in India's Kashmir State - 2002-11-24

In India's Jammu and Kashmir state, suspected Islamic militants have stormed a Hindu temple, killing seven people and injuring at least 25 others. The attack sparked a fierce gunbattle between security forces and the gunmen in the state's winter capital.

Police said the gunmen forced their way into the popular Raghunath temple in Jammu city following explosions in a busy market adjacent to the temple.

Many Hindu devotees were inside the temple at the time of the attack, which police say probably involved two militants. Police commandos entered the temple complex after exchanging heavy gunfire with the attackers for more than two hours.

As the gun battle raged, hundreds of residents crowded around the temple, raising angry slogans against what they said was poor security.

Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani said militants also targeted another small temple in Jammu city. "The target is not merely the Raghunath temple, which is the principle temple in Jammu city, but a small Shiv temple closeby - about 400 meters from the Raghunath temple," Mr. Advani said.

The Raghunath temple is visited by dozens of Hindu devotees everyday. This is the second attack on the temple this year. In March, 10 people were killed when suspected Muslim militants tried to storm the shrine.

More than 30 Hindu devotees were killed in the western state of Gujarat in September, after two suspected Mulsim guerrillas stormed the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar city.

The attack on the temple is the latest in a fresh round of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. A new government took power there earlier this month, promising to open talks with Muslim militant groups, and begin a process of reconciliation in the region.

More than 35,000 people have been killed in violence related to a separatist insurgency that erupted in 1989.